The chapter dedicated to education in Better Off Without ‘Em is titled “The Three Rs of Modern Southern Schools—Revenue, Resentment, Resegregation.”

It attempts to explain why southern students historically rank at the bottom of virtually all traditional measures of academic performance.

High school graduation rates. SAT scores. Basic literacy. Rebel states reliably dominate the lowest strata of all these categories.

There are empiric reasons for the less-than-robust classroom performance of southerners. Despite prevailing wisdom in some unenlightened corners, however, one of them is not that southerners are simply dumber than the rest of the country.

It’s just that they act like it so much of the time.


Louisiana public school shrink wants to exterminate “young black thugs”


Perhaps the year’s most hideous example of southern academic deficiency (I’d call it “shocking,” but these types of stories are all too common in Dixie; several are covered in Better Off) is the case of a school psychologist in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, named Mark Traina.

Concerned with what he allegedly calls the “Black Army of Thugs” currently rampaging against the American way of life, Traina spends his down time presenting his schooled racial insight on the Internet and Twitter.

His alleged final solution for dealing the scourge of black youth currently poxing Louisiana is for them to be “put down not incarcerated. Put down like the Dogs they are!”

A molder of young southern minds, Traina, of course, also swears he’s not a racist. Just a realist.

Gawker posts the Traina story beneath the humorously straightforward slug: “THAT’S RACIST.”

I don’t follow Gawker as obsessively as some people I know, but, given this type of rapier commentary, maybe I should.


CBS and University of Alabama Survivor Colton try to teach nation a lesson in race relations


Traina’s “Just because I rage against young black men doesn’t mean I’m a racist” ilk isn’t hard to find in the South, as any fan of Survivor can tell you.

The worst TV moment of the year so far has to be the recent Survivor season-finale effort to rehabilitate the image of the show’s resident racist and proudly gay cracker, Colton Cumbie, the superior southern belle who in the grand tradition of xenophobic lynch spirit harassed and bullied black and Asian players on the reality show.

In one of the most shameless an callow reality performances since everything that happened on last week’s Bachelor/Bachelorette (yes, I somehow keep up with this shit), Survivor producers dragged Cumbie’s mother onto the show for a repellant display of the old “We’re not racist, that’s just people misrepresenting us poor southerners” routine.

This after the misunderstood Coltie’s own phony display of repentance somehow failed to connect with anybody north of Hayfoot, Mississippi.

At least the nauseating support of the University of Alabama student and Bama native might finally give me a reason to stop watching that goddamn time suck of a show, especially since Survivor producers seem to be hinting at bringing Cumbie back next season.

As one audience member on the show explained, Cumbie’s bigoted southern swagger is just “good television.”

True enough, I guess—news coverage of fire hoses and German shepherds during Civil Rights unrest in the 1950s and ‘60s was a ratings winner and helped make the careers of journos like Mike Wallace. CBS, apparently, doesn’t easily forget lessons of the past.


More glorious southern academic tradition: football and teabaggers


Less portentous, though disturbing in its own way, is the continuing court wrangle over the case of the University of Alabama fan who teabagged an incapacitated Louisiana State University student after Alabama defeated LSU in January’s college football championship game.

The triumphant fan then posted the video of his Yellowhammer jammer perched magnificently on the passed-out student’s neck.

The de-poised LSU fan has since filed a civil damages complaint against the Bama booster and his championship balls.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune has all the sweaty details.

I have to say, the whole teabagging spectacle has never made much sense to me. Sure, it sucks to pass out and have some guy’s spunk sack drooping over your head, but is it really that much less publicly humiliating for the teabagger himself to be seen with his junk on a drunk?

If you’re gonna get that close to your fantasy then get all Ted Haggard and try to wash everything away with the “I was just wasted, out of my mind, I didn’t know what I was doing” excuse, why stop there? Why not just go all the way and shove your pipe in the guy’s mouth and get it over with?


North Carolina vag flash


Appropriate, in light of all this turgid action, that the Dixie school year would end with a case of the vapors overtaking residents of Lake Norman, North Carolina.

Genteel Lake Normanites there were scandalized after the local high school yearbook printed a photo of a female student supposedly flashing her cooch while wearing her cap and gown.

The particulars of the photo are in dispute. Is that real genitalia or merely an unfortunate gown flap? (And, poor thing, should it really be all that hard to tell the difference?

I’m sure dedicated Googlists can find the un-doctored original photo somewhere, though all the versions I found have the student’s face and crotch obscured with those criminally insinuating black bars. The photo is reportedly on page 14 of the hot-selling Lake Norman High School yearbook, a certain future eBay treasure.

I have no idea if the picture shows genitalia or not, but the best comment I found on the uproar comes from In presenting a local news video account of the incident, Complex writes: “Here’s an entire news report on the subject. Lake Norman, nestled in North Carolina, is obviously not that popping of a town.”

Even less so, thankfully, now that the school year is about over.